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Do Your Weekly Car Check

Apr 1, 2008
Every good car owner should check their car periodically to make sure it is running properly. Though there are lights on the dashboard to indicate any problems, it is much better to know a little bit about your car, and to keep an eye on the important fluids that are used to run the car. Everyone knows about putting enough gas in the car, but there are some simple steps that should be done about once a week. This is a very good thing to teach any teenager or other new car owner, especially one whose new car is over five years old.

First of all, make a habit of checking your fluids. The older the car the more frequent the checks should be, but at least make them once every two weeks. Having a regular schedule will help in this, for example, the first and fifteenth of every month. In this way, you will have to remember if you have just forgotten to make the check or if you have just done it. Today let's cover checking the oil.

The oil level is one of the most important fluids to check regularly. There is a long thin metal piece, call the dipstick, that slides into a compartment adjacent to the engine. Most dipsticks ended in a small circular, plastic coated ring that you can use to pull it out of its tube. Make sure you see the small hole the dipstick goes into so that you can replace it there to check the oil level. First, make sure the car is parked on a level surface and has been sitting for several hours before checking the oil. This is because the oil is used to lubricate the engine, and takes a while to settle down back into the bottom of the engine. Remove the dipstick, and wipe any existing oil off it using an old rag. Reinsert the dipstick back into its small hole, all the way down so the top of the dipstick is in its normal position. Pull it out once again and notice the light or dark brown liquid that coats the bottom part of the stick. You will notice that there will be markings on the dipstick, indicating low and full levels for the oil. Depending on your car they may have the words "full" and "add", or possibly just two notches or other notation. Generally the fluid should be somewhere near, or possibly slightly over, the full line on the dipstick (the one higher up on the stick). If not, oil should be added to the car. For most cars, the amount of oil between the bottom mark and the full mark is one quart of oil. So, for example, if you are oil comes half way between the bottom and top marks, then you should add approximately one half quart of oil. Add that much oil, wait for a few moments, and then measure it once again. If the oil level is significantly below the bottom mark, add as much as necessary to bring it up to the top mark, and then have a mechanic look at your car for oil leaks.

In order to add oil to the car, there should be a small round cap that can be unscrewed, which hopefully has the word "oil" on it. If it is not clearly marked, ask a knowledgeable person where to add the oil in, for it is crucial to get the right opening. Simply unscrew the cap, add the oil (using an oil funnel if you wish to be neat), and then make sure you replace the cap securely.

Other fluids to check weekly include coolant level, windshield washer fluid, power steering fluid (if applicable), and brake fluid. Also, make a periodic check of tire pressure. How to do these will be covered in other articles.
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